When clients hire freelancers, they look for a lot of things. A portfolio that shows the freelancer can produce the work a company needs. Reviews that affirm previous clients were happy with that work.
But most of all? Clients want freelancers who are confident about their skills and ability to help businesses reach their goals.
Unfortunately, “confident” may be the last thing you feel when you enter the freelancing world. Sure, you may have valuable skills to share with your clients — but you might be unsure about how to present yourself when you approach a new client.
Should you dress flashy? Adopt an aggressive swagger? “Fake it till you make it”?
Actually, according to Michelle Lee, Marketing Manager at Hectic, true confidence means more than just flexing your ego. <tweet-link>Confidence is a habit — a mindset you enter into where you’re comfortable being yourself and communicating your own worth.<tweet-link>
In her Hectic Academy video “The Power of Confidence,” Michelle offers several tips to help grow your confidence and enter into freelance business deals with more self-assurance. Let’s take a closer look at her suggestions, see how they might apply to your own situation, and examine some tactics that’ll help you develop real confidence.
Maybe you used to work for a major company with a well-known brand that made you feel more poised when you sat down with clients. Maybe you feel like you don’t have the same level of prestige now that you’ve started your own freelance business and only have yourself to back you up.
Well, guess what? Whether you’re working for a Fortune 500 company or a new startup, one thing remains the same — you. Your experience, creativity, and work ethic count for a lot, and it’s important that you see this as a personal brand, something you carry with yourself whether you’re working for a big company or your own small business.
Likewise, don’t confuse confidence with ego. Good businesspeople don’t need to boast and brag about what they’re offering to show their product or service has worth. As long as you know what your freelancing business can provide clients — and communicate this benefit clearly in person and via your website — you’ll showcase your self-worth.
When you’re starting out as a freelancer, it’s natural to want to keep all of your clients happy. These are people who’ll be paying you and (hopefully) recommending you to other clients so your business can grow.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to bend over backwards to accommodate all of your clients’ needs. Create a very clear policy regarding your services and communicate it to your clients — ideally verbally and through a written contract.
If you need to make at least $50 an hour? Don’t suddenly lower your rate to $20 an hour just because a client asked you to. If you got into freelancing so you could spend more time with your kids, don’t agree to regular weekend Zoom meetings after telling your clients you don’t work on those days.
Granted, there’s always some room for flexibility, especially in emergency situations (both for you and your clients). Still, odds are you got into freelancing because you wanted to be your own boss — so stand up for what you know is best for you, even if this causes occasional discord.
No, this doesn’t mean you should start wearing flashy rhinestone jackets and designer sunglasses (although if that’s part of your brand and it’s working for you, go ahead). Actually, “keeping the focus on you” means not comparing yourself to others as you build your freelance career.
Do you feel like every freelancer you meet is ten years younger than you and has a college degree? Good for them. Now focus on how your skills and background can build the business you want. If you decide you need more education — great! Expanding your skill set is always a smart move to make yourself more employable.
But don’t go back to school just because you feel you don’t “measure up” to someone else. Self-reflect on what you have to offer now, discover how your current skills can benefit your clients, and then decide what direction you need to move in to build the life you want.
Has anyone told you that you need to “fake it till you make it” in a job? Many people feel this means they need to imitate optimism, competence, or confidence (even if they don’t feel any of these things) in order to achieve the results they want.
Some people who use this strategy cultivate “power poses” to display authority (even if they don’t feel that important) or use confusing phrases to pretend they know what they’re talking about (even if they have no idea what they’re saying).
While “faking it till you make it” can motivate you to dive into an activity you’d normally be too afraid to try (and gain valuable insights and skills from your experience), there’s a downside to using this tactic. Viewing yourself as a “fake” can cause you to experience imposter syndrome, or the feeling that you’re not as competent as others in your field.
Plenty of new freelancers enter this business with imposter syndrome — and even after they develop true competence, they continue suffering from anxiety over not being good enough.
How can you get past imposter syndrome by adapting a better strategy than “fake it till you make it”? Consider the following:
Even when you’re asked to perform a new task or do something outside your comfort zone, realize you’re using real skills, creativity, and experience to work your way through a problem or issue. Sometimes, you’ll find your unique background and ingenuity is up to the task — and there’s nothing “fake” about your accomplishment, even if you didn’t perform the task like everyone else.
And if you fall short? Then admit you still have something to learn and seek guidance. No one goes into any field knowing everything, and even recognized experts still need help with certain tasks. Viewing yourself as a lifelong learner and not a “fake” covering your inadequacies is often the best way to get past imposter syndrome.
What does it mean to “make it” in your business?
For some, it might mean earning a 6-figure salary. For others, it might mean having the time and resources to travel the world. Still others want to find an ideal work-life balance that lets them provide for and raise their families.
The fact is, <tweet-link>everyone has a different idea of “making it,” and using someone else’s definition of success before reflecting on what you really want will only hurt you.<tweet-link> Suddenly, you’ll be trying to live up to someone else’s standards and feeling unsuccessful whenever you come up short.
So, make sure to ask yourself what you want out of your freelancing career. Once you know what your personal goals are, you’ll be more motivated to reach them — and feel more fulfilled as you find yourself gaining the life you want.
Be sure to take time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished. And feel confident knowing you brought yourself to every point in your journey.
Developing genuine confidence and moving past imposter syndrome is a process—and one that needs to be nurtured through positive actions, encouragement, and good education. Hectic Academy offers useful exercises and micro courses that help you develop the mindset to grow your business in the direction you want it to. Enroll for free and learn how to build your ideal freelance career!